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Tiffany & Co 'Renaissance' Pattern Antique Sterling Silver Asparagus Tongs, New York, c. 1910

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This rare and lovely pattern displays some of Tiffany's finest turn of the century work. It is superbly cast in the Italian renaissance style featuring a sculptural half-length naked female herme. She is partially covered by drapes and surmounts a pilaster decorated with fruit and flowers. Winged caryatids are on each side of her.

This uncommon item has a bottom flat-blade with rounded corners. The top blade has a rounded front to hold the food and is beautifully pierced and engraved.

Paulding Farnham, Tiffany's master jewelry and silver designer at the turn of the century, designed this pattern in 1904. Although he designed other patterns, this is his best known and most coveted pattern. It is a tour-de-force of high relief casting and displays his mastery of historical design.

Interestingly, Louis Comfort Tiffany (who became vice president at Tiffany's after the death of his father in 1902) and Paulding Farnham disagreed about some of Farnham's designs.

L. C. Tiffany didn't like the historical accuracy of Farnham's nude female figure, who subsequently gained drapes. (See Janet Zapata's article, "The rediscovery of Paulding Farnham, Tiffany's designer extraordinaire - Part II: Silver," in the Magazine Antiques, April 1991.)

This elegant server is marked TIFFANY & CO/ STERLING/ PAT 1905/ m'. It measures 7.5 inches long, weighs 6.5 troy ounces, has never been monogrammed and is in excellent antique condition.